UNODC just published this year's World Drug Report, warning about rising heroin production in Afghanistan, but congratulating itself and its drug-warrior allies for the "fact" that "the problem is much localized. Most cultivation (80 per cent) took place in 5 southern provinces, which are the most unstable."
This just in, from Afghanistan's stable, "opium-free" north:
The bazaar sits on a small island in the river Panj, a narrow expanse of shallow but fast-flowing water that is all that separates the Badakhshan region of Tajikistan from the Afghan province of the same name. On either side loom the Pamir mountains, a range of high peaks that cuts the region off from the rest of the world.But opium cultivation is way down in Badakhshan! And Tajikistan is opium-free! I'm sure that any remaining problems can be dealt with through a robust eradication program in Helmand. (Please see health warning above.)
When the bazaar opened about five years ago, the hardy Pamiri people of Tajikistan rejoiced that they would now have contact with people on the Afghan side of the river from whom they had been cut off for decades – by the Soviets, by war, and by ruined economies.
Some boasted happily that Tajikistan would soon be able to share its technical know-how with its Afghan brothers.
That know-how has since flowed both ways, although not as the optimists hoped.
The unprepossessing frontier bazaar squatting on the river Panj has become one of the largest arms-for-drugs trading centres in the world.